When your teenager turns 15 or 16, driving might be all he or she is talking about. Having his own car will allow your teen to drive himself to and from school, head to extracurriculars without your help, and visit with friends. A car will give your child a sense of freedom and independence, but before you go out and buy her one, make sure you've considered the consequences first. Buying your teen a car is a big decision and there are plenty of factors to take into account. Here are five things you'll need to consider before you make that purchase.
The Cost of the Car
Unless your teen has been working and saving, you're going to have to pay for the cost of any car you buy for your child. Start any decision-making process by looking at your own finances and deciding what you can afford. You may find that currently used car loans have a low-interest rate and with a fixed rate, you don't have to worry about the auto loan's interest increasing. It's a good idea to let your teenager into this discussion. Showing him or her what it takes to buy a car and how you make a big financial decision, even if he or she isn't contributing any money, will help your teen learn how to buy responsibly. You can start to plan for future car payments and learn how to manage a lower income. The financial decision is probably the one that needs to be assessed first.
Your Teen's Level of Responsibility
Of course, you won't be thinking about buying your teenager a car if you don't think he or she is responsible enough to handle owning one. Take a good look at your son or daughter's level of responsibility. Will she make sure the oil is changed regularly? Will he refuse friends who ask if they can take a turn behind the wheel? Consider your teen's substance use. The statistics for driving while high might be enough to stop your son from ever doing so, but if your daughter is used to having a few drinks at parties with friends, you may not want to provide her with keys to a vehicle.
The Likelihood He or She Will Be in an Accident
Unfortunately, your child might be the most responsible teenager in the world, but there is still a chance he or she may be involved in a car accident. 60% of deaths among 17 to 20-year-old Australians are caused by car crashes and 33% of young people will crash within the first 12 months of driving. These stats alone could be enough to scare you and your child away from purchasing him or her a car. Discuss vehicle and driver safety with your teenager and read the car accident FAQs. The more you know, the more informed your decision will be.
The Type of Car
Your teen will definitely have an option on what type of car they'd like, but you'll need to consider a few factors. Does your teen need a huge SUV or is that simply increasing their chances of knocking over your mailbox as they back out of the driveway? Look at each vehicle's safety features and see which one will help your teen say safe. A backup camera or automated emergency braking can help your teenager prevent accidents. Look at the features of each vehicle and decide which would be the best fit.
Before purchasing a car for your child, consider the future. Are you going to buy a new car soon? Will your teen be moving to college and won't need a vehicle there? Decide if this is the best choice for your family and what will happen to the car in the future.
Carefully consider this decision before you buy your son or daughter a car. This isn't a purchase that should be made lightly and keeping your teen involved in the decision will teach him or her responsibility and financial awareness.